from : Trade Union Congress of the Philippines – Home.

Unsolved deaths due to poor justice system: UN

November 25, 2010

FAILURE TO prosecute perpetrators behind media killings and a weak justice system are reasons violence against journalist persists in the country, making it the most dangerous place for media workers in the world, an official of the United Nations (UN) said.

“Every time there’s an act of violence against a journalist that is not investigated is an invitation for more acts to occur,” Frank La Rue, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, told a group of Asian journalists during a forum at the Ateneo de Manila University Tuesday, the first anniversary of the so-called Maguindanao massace

Media watchdog Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has recorded 175 cases of journalist killed since democracy was restored in the country in 1986.

In the same event, Rowena C. Paraan, executive officer of the International Federation of Journalists and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) safety officer, said only seven cases of media deaths have been solved.

The closed cases, she added, only resulted in the conviction of assassins and not the masterminds.

Mr. La Rue noted rising incidents of violence against journalists around the world, wherein the Philippines topped the list following the massacre of 32 media workers in Maguindanao province on Nov. 23, 2009.

The media workers covered a group that would file nomination papers of then Buluan vice-mayor Esmael G. Mangudadatu for governor. He was up against then Datu Unsay mayor Andal U. Ampatuan, Jr., the principal suspect.

“Every time a journalist is attacked, democracy is also being attacked. In my report this October, I mentioned the importance of the protection of the journalists around the world in any situation and in any country,” he said.

Describing media killings in the Philippine as “very tragic,” Mr. La Rue added: “Every journalist is a servant of the population because he or she is transferring information to the public. Every journalist deserves to be protected by the state, and every case of violence needs to be investigated and punished.”

CMFR’s Melinda Quintos de Jesus, also speaking in the same forum, said the trend of media killing is alarming.

“Because no one gets punished, there can be no solution and the number of the fallen increases. And statistics have a way of weakening the political will for reform and mute the anger over the state of things,” she said.

For her part, Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima assured journalists that media killings will be handled properly under the Aquino administration.

“Rest assured that you will never find greater respect and recognition for power that media wields than under this administration,” she told members of the NUJP during their 7th Congress at the Ateneo de Manila University yesterday.

She admitted that pinning down the perpetrators of media killings will not be easy.

“The Maguindanao massacre trial, for instance, is a very complicated case involving 196 accused, a number of whom remain influential and powerful even while they remain under custody,” she said.

Liaison for prosecutors

Meanwhile, Ms. de Lima has named Justice Undersecretary Francisco F. Baraan III a liaison for prosecutors handling the massacre trial.

Mr. Baraan’s designation as supervising undersecretary for the prosecution panel — both government and private — in the trial was contained in a one-page department order issued Nov. 22 and released yesterday.

“Usec. Baraan shall regularly meet with the prosecution panel, attend case briefings and make appropriate recommendations for the efficient prosecution of cases,” the department order, which was effective immediately, read.

In earlier interviews, Ms. de Lima said the appointment of a supervising undersecretary is an affirmation of her commitment to hasten the trial and see the prosecution of the accused. — Darwin T. Wee with inputs from NRM








The Earth Hour was once again successful in uniting the world with the issue on global warming. Yesterday, as expected, 2010 Earth Hour became the biggest event ever! Initial report was that Vietnam’s electricity fell half a million KWh during the Earth Hour. This was trice of what they saved when they first join the event in 2009. Though increase in awareness on climate change is the main cause of event, saved energy is going to be the application of this awareness.

Earth Hour 2010 was the fourth of its kind, 2007 being the first. It all started in Sydney with the 2.2 million residents participated with (World Wide Fund for Nature) WWF’s cause in cooperation with The Sydney Morning Herald. From then on, it became a worldwide event and is scheduled every last Saturday of March.

In 2008, 400 cities from 35 countries supported the March 28, 2008 8:00-9:00 Earth Hour. This includes the iconic landmarks in all seven continents. Zogby International equate these to 36 million participants and a four percent increase in awareness on climate change and all other environmental issues.

Another monumental increase was noted in the 2009 Earth Hour held last March 28, 2009 from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. The numbers flared up to 4,088 participating cities from 88 countries. For the first time, United Nations headquarters in New York City participated and save $102 in energy. The United States also topped the participation with 80 million people from 318 cities of its eight states. Philippines seconded with 15 million participants from some 647 cities and towns. Greece followed with 484 cities and towns and Australia with 309.

This year, 137 countries signed up to participate and while the true numbers of people who joined is yet to be finalized, estimates shows that it will also leave the 1 billion goal of 2009 behind.